If you’re looking for a way to get out and explore nature, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll be talking about some of the most popular national parks in the United States like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and more. Get ready to be inspired by these beautiful places and learn how you can plan your own amazing adventure.
With over 400 national parks to explore in the United States managed by the National Park Service (NPS), there are countless opportunities for vacationers looking to experience nature and wildlife. From mountain ranges and rocky coastlines to deserts and tropical islands, the U.S. has some of the most diverse and beautiful scenery in the world.
In addition, many of the parks have similar amenities as Yellowstone National Park, such as camping grounds, educational centers, museums, trails, and other activities. Visitors have a great selection of parks to choose from depending on their individual needs or interests.
Whether you’re a nature lover seeking adventure or looking for a peaceful getaway, national parks like Yellowstone offer something special that can’t be found elsewhere. It’s truly fortunate that Americans have so many wonderful national park options at their fingertips!
Best National Parks like Yellowstone
1. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California
If you’re looking for a national park experience that rivals that of Yellowstone, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California are a must-see destination. The twin parks are a study in superlatives, offering majestic mountains, giant sequoia trees, and steep canyons. Death Valley National Park is also nearby for a more dramatic landscape.
Admissions for both parks are honored by the other, making it easy to experience both in one visit. Whether you’re looking to hike, camp, or just take in the stunning views, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have something to offer everyone.
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2. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California is a great alternative to Yellowstone and Yosemite. Mount Lassen is a sleeping volcano, and the park offers stunning views of the volcanic landscape, with boiling mud pots, steaming fumaroles, and hot springs. It’s the perfect place to explore the wonders of volcanism in a stunning landscape.
The park is also home to some amazing wildlife, from black bears and mountain lions to bald eagles and mule deer. So if you’re looking for an adventure in nature, Lassen Volcanic National Park should be on your list!
3. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
The next stop on our list of national parks like Yellowstone is Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. This park is in the shadows of other renowned parks like Bryce Canyon and Zion. Its stunning beauty and incredible geologic features make it a must-see destination. Capitol Reef National Park offers visitors plenty of opportunities to explore its vast canyons, rugged red cliffs, and other geological wonders.
Hiking trails, rock climbing, and scenic drives are just a few of the activities available at the park. The night sky is also a popular draw for visitors, with its clear skies and dark night skies offering breathtaking views of stars and planets. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or an extended stay, you won’t be disappointed with your visit to Capitol Reef National Park.
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4. Baxter State Park, Maine
If you’re looking for a stunning outdoor experience, then Baxter State Park is the place to be. Located in the North Woods of Maine, this 495,000-acre park is one of the four largest state parks in the US. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy, including hiking, camping, boating, kayaking, and fishing.
If you’re looking for an even more adventurous experience, you can explore the nearby Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. This 87,563-acre monument is home to mountains and forests, rivers, and lakes, offering some of the best views in the area.
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5. Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Montana
The Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness spans the Montana-Wyoming border on the Shoshone, Gallatin, and Custer National Forests and is home to four popular state parks – Whitefish Lake State Park, Lone Pine State Park, Sluice Boxes State Park, and Wayfarers State Park.
It is a great place for outdoor adventurers looking for spectacular scenery and a five-day scenic loop through southern Montana and into Yellowstone National Park.
Elk Lake is a particular highlight in the Beartooth Mountains and is well worth visiting, especially if you are also planning to visit Yellowstone National Park. Finally, don’t forget to check out Lonely Planet’s Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and Day Hikes in the Beartooth Mountains for more information about this incredible wilderness.
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6. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of my favorite National Parks. Much smaller than Zion National Park, it’s easier to visit. Bryce is also at a much higher altitude than Zion, at 9,000 feet (2,743 m). Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its breathtaking geological features, especially its hoodoos – tall spires of rock formed by erosion.
And while the park may be smaller than most US national parks, you can easily hike the six most epic hikes in the park within a day. As the next stop on this incredible national park itinerary, we’ll be heading to Yellowstone National Park.
7. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee & North Carolina
For those looking to explore the beauty of the great outdoors, look no further than the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, this national park is renowned for its picturesque landscapes and abundant wildlife.
Open all year round, visitors can enjoy activities such as wildlife viewing, camping, and hiking. The park also offers a variety of trails to explore, including the Mount Leconte Trail, Laurel Falls Trail, and the Appalachian Trail. Whether you’re looking for adventure or a peaceful retreat, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will surely provide an unforgettable experience.
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8. Acadia National Park, Maine
Known for its 120 miles of well-maintained hiking and biking trails with spectacular views of Maine’s Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor, and the surrounding Atlantic Coast, Acadia National Park is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi and the largest tourist attraction in Maine.
With many US cities situated along its coast, Acadia is a great destination for those looking to scuba dive or explore the great outdoors. For those looking for a more remote experience, New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest is a great alternative.
With a record-setting 4 million visitors in 2019, Acadia is definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for an outdoor adventure. If you can, be sure to check out the grizzly bears which are a big attraction in several parks including Yellowstone and Grand Teton!
9. Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the US, and for good reason. It offers a beautiful landscape with features such as multiple groups of hot springs and fumaroles which are similar to Yellowstone.
While Yellowstone is known for its waterfalls that run all year round, Yosemite is also home to some of the world’s most amazing waterfalls. For those looking to experience nature at its finest, Yosemite National Park is a great choice.
10. Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
If you’re looking for an adventure of a lifetime, look no further than Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska. The park is located just outside the town of Seward in south-central Alaska and is known for its sky-high rock walls and tumbling glaciers.
The planning took a year and visitors can expect to take 10 days to explore the park’s abundant marine life, ginger-beaked puffins, and other natural wonders. With the breathtaking views, it’s easy to see why this is one of Alaska’s most spectacular parks.
11. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Mount Rainier National Park in Washington is a great place to explore. It’s home to numerous glaciers, waterfalls, meadows, and wildlife. The park has over 260 miles of hiking trails, many of which are suitable for all skill levels. Additionally, Mount Rainier offers outdoor activities such as backpacking, rock climbing, and fishing.
The park is located only two hours from Seattle, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway. Additionally, the park is open year-round and offers breathtaking views of the Cascade Range. If you’re looking for a place to explore and enjoy nature, Mount Rainier National Park is the perfect spot.
12. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is the oldest federal reserve in the United States and is over 5,500 acres in size. It offers visitors incredible sights, such as the rugged and green Ouachitas, hot water cascades, and picnic areas. Bathing in spring water is provided at an additional cost in licensed facilities, and the whole Bathhouse Row area is a National Historic Landmark District.
Hot Springs National Park has been well known for its healing hot springs for centuries, with the American Indians bathing there as far back as the 1700s. The park is older than Yellowstone by almost exactly 40 years and is one of many national parks like Yellowstone that offer stunning scenery and plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained.
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13. Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is a great alternative for those who love Yellowstone National Park. It is one of the most spectacular places in the United States and offers visitors an incredible view of the canyon, which was carved by the Colorado River over millions of years.
The canyon itself is incredibly deep, with some parts reaching depths of over a mile. Grand Canyon National Park visitors will be amazed at the sheer size and beauty of this natural wonder.
In addition to its stunning views, Grand Canyon National Park offers visitors plenty of recreational opportunities, including hiking, rafting, camping, and horseback riding. Numerous trails throughout the park allow visitors to explore different areas and appreciate its beauty from different angles. Visitors can take boat rides down the Colorado River or guided tours from the National Park Service to learn more about this historical landmark.
The Grand Canyon also provides a unique experience due to its diverse wildlife. This includes mountain lions, bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, and many other species of birds and mammals that make their home in this environment.
14. Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a stunning natural wonder located in southwestern Utah. It is renowned for its breathtaking red rock canyons, majestic sandstone cliffs, and awe-inspiring waterfalls. The area has been home to Native American tribes for thousands of years, and today is a popular destination for travelers from around the world.
The highlights of Zion National Park are its towering mountains, deep canyons, and unique wildlife. Visitors can explore the park by foot along numerous trails, or take a shuttle bus that stops at each of the main attractions such as Angels Landing and Weeping Rock. There are also several campgrounds located within the park, making it perfect for camping trips.
For those looking to experience something different than Yellowstone National Park while still enjoying beautiful nature scenery, Zion National Park is an ideal alternative. From its iconic red rocks to its lush vegetation and immense geological formations, it is no surprise that this place has become one of the most popular national parks in the United States.
15. Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park is a great option for people looking for a national park similar to Yellowstone National Park. After all, both parks are located in the same state of Wyoming and are only 10 miles away. Grand Teton National Park boasts some breathtaking views of the majestic Grand Teton mountain range, known for its jagged mountain peaks and beautiful alpine meadows.
This park’s wildlife-viewing opportunities are phenomenal, with over 6,000 elk living in the area as well as moose, bison, deer, bald eagles, and more. Visitors can explore miles of trails that crisscross through the park’s forests and enjoy plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and camping.
What’s more, visitors can also experience unique National Park Service educational programs on topics such as geology, ecology, and Native American culture that delve into the area’s rich history. All these features make Grand Teton National Park a great choice for nature enthusiasts who want to experience a landscape similar to Yellowstone but with its distinct beauty.
Is Glacier National Park or Yellowstone better?
It is hard to say which national park is better, Glacier National Park or Yellowstone. Each park offers unique activities and experiences for visitors, so it really depends on what kind of experience the person is looking for. For example, Glacier National Park is well-known for its breathtaking mountain scenery, while Yellowstone is known for its stunning geothermal features like hot springs and geysers. Therefore, the best answer would be that the “best” park depends on the individual’s preferences and interests.
Which is the better national park, Yellowstone or Yosemite?
Both Yellowstone and Yosemite are incredibly beautiful and unique national parks with a lot to offer. It really depends on what you’re looking for in a park experience. Yellowstone is known for its geothermal features, such as the Old Faithful geyser and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, as well as its wildlife, including bison, elk, and wolves.
Yosemite, on the other hand, is famous for its towering granite cliffs, including Half Dome and El Capitan, as well as its waterfalls, such as Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Fall. Both parks also offer a wide range of recreational activities, including hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.